Ever since I saw a picture of this dessert/pastry in my cookbook The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden, I wanted so badly to make it. But I always forget to buy phyllo pastry in the grocery store.(I guess subconsciously I really didn’t want to make it that badly!! LOL). Then after making the Daring Bakers’ challenge for this month which is this fantastic apple strudel, I realized the strudel dough is not really any different from phyllo pastry. The ingredients were the same: flour, water and vinegar. Well, I made another batch of the strudel dough and used it to make this Moroccan pastry M’hencha (meaning ‘snake’) which is a long coil of phyllo filled with ground almond paste. I cut my dough too narrow so I ended up with thin coil. Next time, I will try this with phyllo pastry to compare.
- 2 cups ground almonds
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- approx 2 tbs orange blossom water (or enough to make a paste)
- 1/2 strudel dough recipe or 1/2 pound phyllo pastry
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- egg wash for glazing (beat 1 egg yolk with 1 tbs water)
- Mix all the filling ingredients and work into a paste with your hands.
- Roll out strudel dough thinly and cut into 3 inch wide strips (whatever length you can handle).
- Brush one strip with melted butter. Take lumps of the almond paste and roll into fingers about 3/4 inch thick.
- Place end to end in a line along the long edge of the dough strip. Roll the dough sheet over the filling, tucking the ends in to stop the filling from oozing out.
- Lift the roll carefully with both hands and place in the middle of baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Very gently curve the roll like a coil without tearing the dough. Repeat with the rest of the strips.
- Brush the top of pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with some ground almonds. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 30 – 40 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.
- Serve at room temperature. Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar if desired. Cut the pastry like a cake which will give you a piece with varying sizes.